Fanatics Valued at $27B After Raising Another $1.5B in Funding

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Fanatics may be inching ever closer to its long-expected IPO.

On Wednesday, the digital sports merchandising platform raised another $1.5 billion, which now values the company at $27 billion.

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The investors in this round include BlackRock, Fidelity and MSD Capital, Michael Dell’s private investment firm. The investors were drawn to the strength of Fanatics’ core commerce business as well as its “significant” growth opportunities, according to one source.

A spokesman for Fanatics declined to comment on the report.

One year ago, Fanatics raised $320 million from its existing lenders that more than doubled its valuation to $12.8 billion, and that was on top of the $350 million it raised in August 2020.

The company started out as an online sports merchandising business but has been building a global digital sports platform that now includes Topps, the leading trading card and collectibles business, as well as a sport betting and iGaming division that is being run by Matt King, the former chief executive officer of FanDuel, who joined Fanatics last year. It also holds a 50 percent stake in Lids, a retail headwear, sports apparel and accessories retailer, and recently created a company called Candy Digital, which sells NFTs.

Fanatics is still majority owned by Michael Rubin, who serves as executive chairman. Alongside him is Doug Mack, current commerce CEO, who oversees the core business as well as the newly acquired Mitchell & Ness division. Mack recently added responsibilities as vice chairman for the larger Fanatics company.

Other key management figures are Glenn Schiffman, chief financial officer, who held that same role with IAC, and Tucker Kain, chief strategy and growth offer, who was most recently president of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fanatics is expected to use the latest investment to continue to expand its digital sports platform and build a better business model.

For the past few years, Fanatics’ aggressive growth initiatives have led many in the investment community to speculate that an IPO is not far in the future for the company. But there is no update to the time frame.

In an interview with WWD last summer, Mack didn’t deny that it remains an available option for the company and said going public would present both challenges as well as advantages to Fanatics.

“We don’t need an IPO to raise capital because we’re well capitalized and we’re cash-flow positive,” he said in July. “The primary things to gain via an IPO would be to raise our visibility even further with the tens or hundreds of millions of consumers. And we’ve been fairly acquisitive as a company and that’s a little bit harder as a private company. The case against that is that as part of our culture, we’re extremely transparent internally, continually sharing the scorecard of how we’re performing, what we’re doing well and what we need to work on. And once a company becomes public, you lose the ability to share as much information internally.”